Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Connected Coast plans take giant step forward with CityWest/Strathcona Regional District announcement

The connected Coast initiative took a large step forward today
with the signing of  joint Venture Partnership for  Prince Rupert's
CityWest and Vancouver Island's Strathcona Regional District

The somewhat delayed plans for fibre optic connection of coastal BC, Haida Gwaii and Northern Vancouver Island seems to finally be back on track, with a significant announcement today of the Joint Venture Agreement for Prince Rupert based CityWest and Strathcona Regional District.

At the Strathcona Regional District Board meeting of September 16th, Directors unanimously agreed to proceed with the Connected Coast project by entering a Joint Venture partnership with CityWest. 

The Connected coast plans will deliver broadband infrastructure to the region and as the SRD members noted will require an innovative, broad collaborative approach. 

Towards that goal, the SRD board observed how CityWest’s service provider strengths will complement and assist the SRD to deliver a long-term sustainable network and achieve the goals of community connectivity.

CityWest CEO
Stefan Woloszyn
For his part, Stefan Woloszyn, CEO of CityWest, made note of the past work with the Regional District and looked towards the future as the project moves forward.

“This partnership with SRD will ultimately help people in underserved communities along the coast. We’ve worked very closely over the past two years on this project, and we’re looking forward to seeing some tangible results soon.”

In their announcement of today, CityWest outlined some of the background to the project and what will come in the months and years ahead.

The project’s purpose is to bring high-speed Internet accessibility to rural and remote communities along coastal B.C., Haida Gwaii, and Vancouver Island. 

After that high-level objective was announced in January 2018, CityWest and SRD worked closely with the federal and provincial governments to determine the details and funding of the project. 

Earlier this year, the project slowed down due to COVID-19, and as CityWest transitioned to a new CEO. Over the past few months, the project has been refreshed, which has led to the joint venture agreement. 

The next steps in the project concern community engagement, permitting and detail network design. More information on the next steps of the project will be posted on the Connected Coast website when made official.

The topic of reliable internet connections for the regions involved and the slow pace of development of them was a theme for Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach in the House of Commons in late September, with the MP raising the topic during Question Period..

And towards some of his concerns of September, today's update provided some thoughts from Federal Minister, Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development   

"Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that access to high-speed Internet is the key to our economic prosperity, health and safety. Through investments in broadband, we continue to open doors so all Canadians can stay connected with loved ones and participate in everyday activities online. We are supporting projects that will connect one million households across the country and have made billions available to connect even more. With this project, over 9000 households in coastal British Columbia will be better equipped to thrive in the digital economy.”

The Connected Coast project will bring high speed Internet access to rural and remote communities including the Central Coast of BC, Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island, it will also offer Prince Rupert and Northwest internet users a second connection to the Lower mainland area, which will make for a significant back up opportunity for CityWest to serve its customers.

No cost estimates, or timeline towards development were included as part of today's update.

As we outlined in late August, CityWest and Strathcona Regional District recently put out a Request for Proposals towards their connected coast planning.

More on today's announcement can be explored here.

Some past themes on Connected Coast can be found from our archive page here.

No comments:

Post a Comment